Chapter 3 of AWE: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do by Paul David Tripp -
A Review by Pastor Aaron Adame
As I read through this chapter, I was personally encouraged by the addressing of this topic on ministry and how it relates to awe. One of my passions as a Christian (and as a pastor) is to help my fellow believers see, understand, and live out their God-given ministry in their lives. That’s right, you heard me correctly—if you are reading this, you have a ministry. You might not be on staff at a church or parachurch ministry, but God has called you to ministry. What do I mean? Listen to Paul’s words to the church in Corinth:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Co 5:17–21 ESV)
What was Jesus’ ministry when He was in the world? As Paul said, it was to reconcile sinners back to God (and to one another). If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are a beneficiary of His ministry because your life has been reconciled back to God. But it gets even more incredible! You see, those whom Jesus has reconciled, He has also called to the same ministry He had—a ministry of reconciliation. God has called you, Christian, to be an ambassador of reconciliation. That is, helping people to see their need for God and then telling them that a relationship with God is available through Jesus Christ. And once they are joined to Him by faith, God also desires to see their relationships with people reconciled.
Before I continue on this, perhaps it might be helpful for me to define what the term ministry means. Often times, people think of ministry as tasks to be fulfilled: Food and clothing drives, doing work at a neighbor’s or stranger’s house, or helping a student with their homework. All these are great, but these tasks can be done (and often are done) without relationship. Instead, ministry is people-to-people. It's not about doing tasks but building relationships with people with the goal of showing them the love and grace of Jesus Christ, as expressed in Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Ministry isn’t simply about putting clothes on people or filling empty stomachs. Ministry happens when there is relational connection, to the point that people see and experience Christ, which results in them praising God! Friends, that’s ministry!
So, you see, ministry isn’t just for paid staff. Ministry is for all believers to participate in through every relationship they have. If you are a mom, dad, wife, husband, friend, neighbor, coworker, teacher, manager, barista, contractor—you have a ministry to those around you.
What Paul David Tripp is saying in this chapter is this: you have a ministry, and your ministry is not just to do kind things for people. Your ministry is to inspire people with the awe of God. As a parent, your ministry to your kids is to help them see the awesome wonder of God, so that they grow up already having their hearts captured by the greatest awe and not the lesser that is in this world. If you are ministering to a friend whose marriage is falling apart, your ministry to them is primarily about helping them see that having a great marriage isn’t the goal—as if that was the most awesome achievement in life—but to see that their marriage must flow from an awe of God first and foremost. If you are sharing the gospel with a stranger on an airplane, what you hope to leave them with is a heart-churning wonder of God’s grace and love for them through the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
Here’s the point, God hardwired us for wonder and awe. Therefore, ministry is about reconnecting—reconciling—people back to the only source that can truly satisfy that longing in our hearts for awe. The problem is that our hearts not only settle for lesser things, but as Christians, we often offer lesser things. We offer stuff without a loving relationship. We offer entertainment without substance. We offer tasks without grace. We offer rules when God offers life.
Some questions to consider:
If you took an inventory of your day-to-day activities and relationships, would you come up with the same assessment that Tripp did early in the chapter—where you are doing a lot of stuff but lacking the grand perspective? If so, how can you see a pursuit of awe in your life’s busyness to reorient you back to a more focused ministry endeavor?
If you are involved in ministry in church or in the community, to what extent would you say it flows from your awe of God and has a goal of inspiring others to have that awe as well?
Take some time this week to think of five attributes of God that inspire awe in you—and then share those with someone you know.
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